Lectio Divina – Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

 

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
Do you know you are worthy of love?

This is my creative response to Lectio Divina this week.

It is reflective of my theological understanding of what Brene Brown teaches in her Ted Talk about shame and vulnerability. There is something about original sin, shame, and the power of vulnerability that connects deeply for me. I wonder if the knowledge of good and evil is the move from “simply being” to the knowledge that we are imperfect. What if the knowledge of good and evil is the knowledge that there is a continuum…the knowledge that some things are better than others? There are people better than us, faster than us…in this world we may not be good enough, lovable enough…what if the knowledge of good and evil is the fear that we may not be worthy of love and belonging? Which drives us to the question…where am I on the continuum? Is my location good enough? The search for salvation then is the search for the knowledge that we are worthy of love and belonging. We search for this place where we know we are imperfect and we know we are worthy of love…that we belong to someone.  Which of course we do, in so many ways God reaches out to us to show us that we may be imperfect but we are worthy of love and belonging.

Contradiction…

A few weeks ago I found myself drawn into an epic debate over all things Christian. It was amazing and fun, I loved every second. At one point, an hour or two into the debate, I mentioned the contradictions in the Bible. To which my friend informed me that there were none. Which kind of confused me. Of course there are contradictions…of course he wanted examples…of course I couldn’t think of one in that second. Yikes! There is nothing worse than my brain taking a nap in the middle of a debate! (OK…there are many things in life that are much worse but it wasn’t a fun moment!)

When my brain finally rebooted, I pointed out that Genesis 1 depicts God as transcendent and powerful, while Genesis 2 describes God as anthropomorphic, walking through the garden in the evening. His answer was to point out the trinity and remind me that God is anthropomorphic and transcendent.

So, I was thinking about this conversation today and had one of those moments. You know, those moments that the answer comes after the opportunity to speak it has passed.

The trinity, in its very nature is contradictory. Somehow we hold the trinity with ease. We are OK with God that is Father, Son, and Spirit. We are fine with the fact the Christ is fully God and fully Man. These are contradictions, things that cannot fully exist at the same time. Why is it that God can be beyond our understanding but when it comes to the Bible we want to rid it of the things that don’t make sense? The Bible has contradictions. For me that’s one of the things that makes it Holy…it is a book that I can turn to when I need to look for peace…I can open it when I need strength, understanding, and wisdom. It is also a book that I find conviction and correction. I am OK with God being more than I can ever understand, I am also OK with the Bible being more than I can understand.

Related Stuff…

Voice…

My family’s church home has been a United Methodist Church for almost four years. As a congregation, we say the Lord’s Prayer at every service, whether contemporary or traditional. In the United Methodist tradition, we say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Alan, told me that he still stumbles over the “trespasses”. He grew up in the Presbyterian Church where they say debts instead of trespass. After years of saying the Lord’s Prayer the new way…he still stumbles. That is the power of words.

The Hindu Vedas are the same; some of these spoken scriptures are so old that the original language has been lost to history. Repeated generation after generation, repeated in exactly the same way every time…even as the world around it changes.

The pastor at our church begins his sermon with the same prayer every time; we all know it, every word. I can hear many people whispering the words with him as he speaks them. It would be very jarring if he spoke the words differently, we would notice any variation even if it were a minor one.

The repeated spoken word surrounds us. It helps us memorize and then share it with others.

When I read Genesis 1, this is what I hear. A song about creation…the Sabbath…the Voice that brought order out of chaos.

When I read Genesis 1, I hear an ancient people telling their story, repeating it, teaching it to their children, poetry that helped shape a people and hold them together especially during the times that their people might have been lost to history.

History…Genesis 1:1-4

I am sticking with the Old Testament readings for the time being, this week the Old Testament text is Genesis 1:1-4. To be honest, these are not my favorite bible verses. I find strength and wisdom when I read about human interaction, the community between God and human, and the raw emotional response to life…these things are lacking in these verses. I can close my eyes and envision this story being told around the campfire or maybe during worship in the temple but even that doesn’t hold my interest for long. Maybe studying these versus this week will help me find a connection with the text (or maybe not…who knows?).

If you read the first couple of chapters of Genesis closely, you find a change in voice, the name of God changes, and there are different thoughts and ideas of who God is and how that God interacts with people, the narrator of the story changes. In Genesis 1 God is transcendent and able to bring order to light, land and sea. God is the creator of all order.

The first account of creation, Genesis 1-2:4a feels like it could be a responsive reading during a church service…maybe it was at one time. The Documentary Hypothesis is the theory that believes many different documents were combined over several centuries to create the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). The Documentary Hypothesis states that there are four different sources, one of them being the “P” source, or priestly source. “The P, or Priestly, source is named because of its emphasis on matters of religious observance and ritual. Thus, in Genesis, the first account of creation, which is P, concludes with the account of divine rest and hence of the Sabbath observance” (Coogan, 53). If this were a priestly writer then it would make sense for a religious leader to lead the congregation with this reading, maybe in a responsive way, or maybe as a hymn that the congregation sings together.

Most academic studies of the Genesis creation accounts include other Ancient Near East creation accounts like the Enuma Elish. Coogan, Yale, and my Hebrew Bible class at Iliff School of Theology all include the study of other creation myths as a starting point for study. The surrounding cultures were part of the biblical world, just like the surrounding cultures today are part of our world. Many parts of the Bible, including the creation accounts are speaking into the countries and cultures of the time. The first creation story in Genesis was a response to other cultures…”your god is the sea? Well OUR God created the sea and all God did was speak a word and then there was order!”

More Reading…

Getting Drunk with the Documentary Hypothesis

Holy Chaos

For the last week and a half, my life has consisted of planned…controlled…maddening…CHAOS. First, we planned and prepared Christmas dinner for fourteen people. Dinner was amazing and wonderful, even if my house only holds six or seven people at one time. We somehow made it work. Christmas Day was chaos but it held a Love that embraced us all.

A short twelve hours later the Christmas tree was down, decorations were stored for the year and we were ripping the carpet out of our living room. A different kind of chaos maybe…but chaos non-the-less! After spending most of the week creating a level surface, we finally laid our new flooring. Our new living room floor is flat, clean, new and beautiful. We still have chaos, little things that need to be done (like baseboards and bringing the furniture back in) but I am thankful that most of the dust is gone.

I would guess that my life over the past week had quite a bit of influence on how I read the lectionary text because chaos jumped off the page with every word. Genesis 1:1-5, the beginning. Chaos reigned; there was darkness, void, water…CHAOS. Then God brought light. Psalm 29 is a song that speaks of God’s power to create chaos. The wilderness shakes, the voice of God flashes forth flames of fire, God makes the oaks swirl and strips the forest bare. (We had a tree fall on our house last year during an intense windstorm, when the bible tells me that the LORD “strips the forest bare”, I can almost taste the chaos!) The next reading, Acts 19:1-7, Paul asks the people of Ephesus if they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, which sounds a bit like “was their chaos at your baptism?”  Paul lays his hands on them and “they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” This scene is almost as chaotic as 14 people packed like sardines into my little living room! Finally in Mark 1:4-11 “[Jesus] saw the heavens torn apart.” More chaos!

Occasionally a theme shines through the lectionary texts. This week the theme could be the Breath of God, the coming of the Holy Spirit, or maybe the power that the people feel when they encounter God…but with a chaotic Christmas Dinner and the absences of a living room floor in my recent past, I see chaos in these texts. A God that comes into our lives and brings light into the chaos (Genesis 1:1-5), a word so powerful it frees the forest of its leaves (Psalm 29), a God not bound by language (Acts 19:1-7) and tears the heavens apart to acknowledge Christ (Mark 1:1-11). Our God is a God that is not afraid of chaos.

Chaos on the web: